I moved to NYC in 2003 to pursue acting. That career path didn’t last long for me, but the thespian in me loves to think about how my current work as a movement teacher can be like telling a story the way I would as an actor—but rather than performing or watching the story, we feel it. How I sequence a class determines how that story unfolds.
With peak pose classes, we can think of the peak as the main character. As the plot unfolds, we might get to know, or feel, different aspects of their personality, motives, history, etc. Of course, this character is really just us, so in working toward a peak pose in yoga we’re getting to know our own body and how to move it, within the particular circumstances that the story of the sequence presents.
I spend a lot of time planning my sequences (and sometimes wonder if this is what writer’s desks look like). I use a storyboard approach for planning my multidisciplinary classes. I draw from different movement vocabularies and levels of fluency in those languages among my students. I break down the climax of the story I want to tell into smaller acts, so it’s easier for everyone to get to know the character(s).
I now present you with the story of Banded King Dancer (Natarajasana), told in seven acts.
ACT 1 — in which we tell our shoulders the story of the path of external rotation during shoulder flexion as it relates to keeping the elbows hugging in. (Oh, and we warm up the wrists some for Act 3 😉
ACT 2 — in which we continue to tell our shoulders the story of external rotation, but now with resisted external rotation.
ACT 3 — in which we continue the plot line of external rotation . . . but the plot thickens! Enter thoracic extension and isometric presses in Upward Facing Bow pose prep (a cousin of Natarajasana)!
ACT 4 — in which we flip Act 3 upside down! And load our shoulder flexors, and spinal and hip extensors more significantly in a more “open chain” active range situation, which is more similar to the way we need to produce force in Natarajasana.
ACT 5 — in which we stand up and flash back to Acts 1 and 2, but now from standing (thus more similar to Natarajasana)
ACT 6 — Behold Natarajasana, in their tensegrity glory! Banded, mid-range, partially closed chain, partial assistance. Proprioceptive and spacious!
ACT 7 — the big dance! A flow montage. Putting it all together…